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The 12 best culinary destinations in Spain

Discover the best regions in Spain for your next culinary tourism trip

Introduction

If you’re a lover of good food and authentic gastronomic experiences, Spain is a paradise you must explore. This country offers a diversity of flavors and culinary traditions that captivate travelers from around the world. In this article, we take you on a journey through the 12 best gastronomic destinations in Spain. You’ll have the opportunity to savor authentic Spanish cuisine and immerse yourself in its culinary culture through unique products and entirely artisanal and sustainable practices.

Note: The list shown below is sorted geographically.

Galicia

In the northwest of Spain, Galicia is a paradise for seafood lovers and undoubtedly one of the best gastronomic destinations in Spain. Its estuaries and coasts offer some of the tastiest seafood products you’ve ever tried. A great gastronomic experience can be to accompany a “Marisqueiro” (shellfisherman) and learn all the secrets and dangers of their tough profession. Bateas tourism in the Rías Baixas or visiting one of the many canneries in the area is also highly recommended.

Moreover, you can’t miss the famous “pulpo a la gallega” (Galician-style octopus), one of the most iconic dishes in the region. Galicia also invites you to explore its dairy products and derivatives; visiting a cheese or butter factory is a highly recommended activity. Becoming a beekeeper for a day, strolling through Padrón to taste its peppers, or visiting Betanzos to savor its tortillas are other unforgettable culinary experiences. Heading further inland, you can indulge in delicious empanadas filled with scallops, octopus, cabbage, or enjoy the “magosto” festival in November in many of the towns in Ourense or Lugo.

Above all, Galicia is a top-notch wine region, with the spectacular Ribera Sacra and the renowned DO Rías Baixas, offering high-quality wine tourism without overcrowding and with an exceptional final product.

Turismo gastronómico Galicia

Asturias

Asturias, on the northern coast of Spain, is famous for its Asturian cider and “fabada” (bean stew). However, Asturias offers much more; besides visiting traditional cider houses and cider presses that will transport you to past times, it provides magnificent cheeses of unparalleled quality, such as Cabrales, Gamoneu, or Afuega’l pitu. Visiting a cave embedded in the mountains, accessible only on foot, where these cheeses are carefully stored and aged by their producers, is an unparalleled experience.

Moreover, the region boasts superb seafood, preserved seafood products, and excellent freshwater fish, making Asturias a paradise for seafood lovers. The influence of corn in Asturian gastronomy and culture is also something worth exploring, and there’s no better way to do it than by visiting an ancient watermill where, to this day, corn is ground using the force of water.

Undoubtedly, Asturias is one of the best provinces for culinary tourism.

pueblo pesquero de asturias al atardecer

Cantabria

In Cantabria, dairy products and anchovies are authentic gastronomic treasures. Local dairies offer a variety of cheeses, from creamy cheese to smoked cheese, along with some of the best butter in the country. These dairy products are used to create delicious pastries such as “sobaos pasiegos,” “quesada,” or the wonderful “corbatas de Unquera.”

Cantabria’s anchovies are famous for their unparalleled flavor, and there’s no better way to appreciate them than by visiting a cannery and observing how the anchovies from Santoña are hand-prepared. “Orujo,” a traditional Spanish liqueur, has been a part of Cantabrian culture and gastronomy for centuries. In Liébana, you can still visit distilleries that produce this elixir in copper stills. “Cocido montañés,” Picón cheese, honey with a Designation of Origin from Liébana, or their famous calamari “rabas” are among the many products you’ll discover in one of the most beautiful regions of the country.

Basque Country

In our list of the best gastronomic destinations in Spain, Euskadi cannot be missing. It’s a land of unique traditions and flavors. San Sebastián is globally renowned for its pintxos and its concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants; it’s the second city with the most Michelin stars per capita in the world, according to The Huffington Post.

But Euskadi is much more than that. With an epic maritime and canning industry, the seafood products in the Basque Country deserve a post of their own. Although a visit to an artisanal canning factory in Bermeo or a meal at one of the grillhouses in Orio or Getaria will give us an idea of the importance of this sector in the culture and gastronomy of this region. In addition to their grillhouses and pintxos bars, other establishments we must not miss are their cider houses, where we’ll taste the classic cider menu while savoring the year’s cider directly from the barrel with the cry of “Txot!” Visiting an Idiazabal cheese dairy and then having a typical shepherd’s menu is another experience you shouldn’t miss. Exploring the town markets, where local farms sell their products, discovering how “piparras” from Ibarra or “alubias” (beans) from Tolosa are grown and preserved, as well as delving into the secrets of beekeeping in the midst of the Alava mountains, are other must-do activities for food enthusiasts during their visit to Euskadi.

Furthermore, we can’t forget their magnificent wines, from the wonderful Txakolis to the great aged wines of La Rioja Alavesa, the Basque Country offers us countless options for wine tourism.

 

Catalonia

Catalonia is an essential gastronomic destination, undoubtedly one of the best in Spain. Barcelona, its capital, is famous for its markets like La Boquería, Sant Antoni, or La Bonanova. Its selection of tapas in wine cellars and vermouth bars is endless. But Catalonia is much more than Barcelona. Visiting the Ebro Delta, tasting freshly harvested oysters from the sea, and then enjoying a seafood rice dish is a priceless experience.

Its offering of wines and wine tourism is nearly infinite, as is the quality of the wines themselves: Priorat, Penedès, Corpinnat, Costers del Segre, Empordà, Alella, Pla de Bages, or Montsant are just some of the Designations of Origin (DO) you can visit on your gastronomic journey through Catalonia.

Picking the magnificent “tear of Llavaneras” peas with our own hands, also known as earth caviar, is a highly recommended experience. Attending a “calçotada” and learning how to cook these delicious tender onions over an open flame while drinking wine directly from the traditional “porró” and learning to make the sauce that accompanies this dish is something unique. The volcanic cuisine of La Garrotxa, with its Sant Pau beans and fantastic cheese dairies, is another must-visit.

Furthermore, Catalonia offers us an exceptional coastline with equally exceptional products: prawns, mantis shrimp, sea urchins, rockfish, lobsters, are just examples of the seafood that can be seen at their fish markets or “Llotjas.” We must not forget the remarkable offering of gourmet restaurants that this region provides, some of which rank among the best in the world.

Balearic Islands

Las Islas Baleares son conocidas por su estilo de vida relajado y su cocina mediterránea. Además de su magnífica calidad de vida, las islas te sorprenderán por su exquisita gastronomía. La ensaimada, un dulce tradicional hecho con manteca de cerdo, es una auténtica delicia, y aprender a hacer una tú mismo es una experiencia inolvidable.

The Balearic Islands are known for their relaxed lifestyle and Mediterranean cuisine. In addition to their excellent quality of life, the islands will surprise you with their exquisite gastronomy. The “ensaimada,” a traditional pastry made with lard, is an authentic delight, and learning to make one yourself is an unforgettable experience.

Unique cheeses like Mahón cheese, high-quality beef, wineries producing wines with native grape varieties for wine tourism. Enjoying a day of fishing on their famous “Llaüts,” followed by a delicious “bullit i peix” (fish stew) in a fishermen’s hut facing the Mediterranean, is a memorable experience. Routes through olive groves, orange groves, and almond trees will make you feel that in these wonderful islands, nature, not humans, dictates the pace of life. Learning all the secrets about “sobrasada,” or discovering the history of Mahón’s mayonnaise, their most internationally renowned sauce, are just some of the countless gastronomic activities that these magnificent islands will offer us.

sobrasadas-colgando-de-un-palo

Leon

Leon is a gastronomic gem still waiting to be discovered by many food enthusiasts. Except for seafood, León offers an unparalleled culinary repertoire. From magnificent cave-aged cheeses like Valdeón or Los Beyos to dishes marked by the history, topography, and culture of the Leonese people, such as “bacalao al ajo arriero” (cod with garlic), trout soups, “cocido maragato” (a local stew), or “botillo” (a type of sausage). The blood sausage of León is famous throughout Spain and is the only one served in a “cream” style. Its “cecina,” whether made from goat or cow, is renowned for its quality across the country. Moreover, cured meats like chorizo make the Leonese charcuterie a delight almost comparable to areas known for the best Iberian products.

León also boasts two magnificent Designations of Origin (DO) for wine tourism. One of them, DO Bierzo, is undoubtedly one of the geographical regions that has shaken up the world of wine in the last 20 years, with renowned winemakers producing some of their best wines here. Bierzo, in addition to great wines, offers an incomparable range of high-quality produce: peppers, chestnuts, apples, and potatoes are just a few examples of the gastronomic excellence of this territory.

But if all this weren’t enough, León can proudly claim to be one of the regions in Europe with the highest quality beef production. Valles del Esla or the meats from the renowned El Capricho in Jiménez de Jamuz, named by Time magazine as the best place in the world to eat meat, are clear examples of this. León wins over visitors with its magnificent “tapas,” substantial appetizers served for free with each drink in every bar. That’s why it’s normal in this province to go out for a drink and end up having a full meal.

For all these reasons, León couldn’t be missing from our list of the 12 best gastronomic destinations in Spain.

La Rioja

La Rioja is a world-class wine region. Its vineyards stretch across hills and valleys, creating a picturesque landscape that is especially delightful in the autumn. In addition to tasting some of the best wines in Spain at historic wineries, you can enjoy regional cuisine that pairs perfectly with its wines. Try roast lamb, “bacalao a la riojana” (Rioja-style cod), the famous “chuletillas al sarmiento” (grilled lamb chops over grapevines), or “patatas a la Riojana” (Rioja-style potatoes) – these are some of the dishes you can’t miss.

In Logroño, the capital, you must spend an evening on Calle Laurel, savoring tapas and pintxos of sublime quality, such as the ear sandwich or the mushroom pintxo. La Rioja and Euskadi are quite similar in their approach to pintxos and bar-hopping. La Rioja offers a unique gastronomic experience in an incomparable wine-oriented setting.

Aside from its incredible wine-focused gastronomy, La Rioja offers bucolic landscapes that, along with the hospitality of its people, make you never want to leave this magnificent region. For all these reasons, it couldn’t be missing from our list of the 12 best gastronomic destinations in Spain.

Bodega moderna con tejado ondulado en LA Rioja

Valencia

Valencia’s cuisine goes far beyond its paellas and rice dishes; it’s a Mediterranean flavor festival that delights the senses. This region of Spain is known for its vibrant cuisine and markets filled with excellent products. That’s why it can’t be missing from our list of the best gastronomic destinations in Spain.

Valencian wines are a delight for oenophiles. The Utiel-Requena region produces exceptional red and white wines. A visit to a winery during the grape harvest season can be a perfect opportunity to taste these unique wines while exploring the beautiful vineyard landscape and even stomping grapes as in ancient times.

One of Valencia’s most iconic dishes is paella. Made with round rice from the Albufera and cooked with a variety of ingredients, from fresh seafood to rabbit and chicken, saffron, and “garrofons” (a type of bean), these ingredients are essential for our Valencian paella. Cooking a Valencian paella over an open flame with orange wood is an experience you can’t miss. Another dish you must try is “fideuá,” similar to paella but made with thin wheat pasta noodles instead of rice. To accompany it, nothing beats “all i oli,” a traditional garlic and olive oil sauce served with many Valencian dishes, which pairs perfectly with fideuá and grilled meats. A good aioli is made by hand, using a mortar and pestle or a fork and a deep plate. Making your own horchata, a refreshing and sweet beverage made from tiger nuts commonly found in Valencia, is another experience you can’t miss. Paired with the famous “fartons,” elongated and fluffy pastries, it’s the perfect refreshment for a hot day.

Fresh fish and seafood are fundamental elements of Valencian cuisine. Try red prawns, grilled octopus, or “esgarraet,” a salad made with roasted peppers and codfish. Valencia is famous for its oranges, and Valencia oranges are known for their sweetness and juiciness. You can enjoy fresh orange juice almost anywhere in this magnificent province. Another countryside experience not to be missed is visiting one of its olive oil mills or mills in one of its many olive groves.

In addition to all these products, Valencia is increasingly at the forefront of culinary technique and innovation, with renowned chefs like Quique Dacosta, Kiko Moya, Begoña Rodrigo, or Ricard Camarena, among many others, running their own businesses both inside and outside the province.

Huelva

Huelva, in addition to being the province with the most protected natural areas in Spain, is a delight for our senses. Our journey begins in the Sierra de Aracena, where the Jabugo Designation of Origin offers us exceptional Iberian hams. Its forests of holm oaks and cork oaks make the “montanera” (the period when these animals feed on acorns) unique, resulting in exceptional cured meats. But not only can we enjoy the cured meats from this product, but also, in some of its fabulous restaurants, we will taste its finest cuts like “secreto” (a cut of pork), “pluma” (another pork cut), or “lagarto” (yet another pork cut), prepared on the grill. On its coastline, Huelva offers us unique dishes and experiences.

Without a doubt, nowhere else prepares “coquinas” (a type of clam) like in this province. Learning to cook “papas con choco” (potatoes with cuttlefish) or eating exceptionally fresh prawns is another thing that cannot be missed on your gastronomic journey through this province. Additionally, Huelva offers us high-quality farm produce: strawberries, oranges, and incredible olive groves that produce exceptional olive oil, rounding out our culinary adventure in this province.

Cadiz

In a list of the best gastronomic destinations in Spain, Cadiz could not be missing. It is known for its tapas and fried foods. But this province has much more to offer in terms of gastronomy. From the perspective of wine tourism, Cadiz provides us with a spectacular setting in the Jerez region, which spans from El Puerto de Santa María to Sanlúcar de Barrameda, passing through Jerez de la Frontera. This area is renowned for its unique aging process in the world, along with oxidative fermentation processes and majestic wineries, making these towns essential destinations for wine lovers.

In the Sierra de Grazalema, in addition to enjoying spectacular landscapes, you will find one of the best goat cheeses in all of Europe, made from the milk of the Payoya goat. When you return to the coast, we suggest immersing yourself in the experience of the “almadraba,” an ancient fishing system that takes advantage of its strategic location in the Strait of Gibraltar to catch the best tuna at their optimal moment as they pass through Barbate. In the salt flats, another ancestral fishing art known as “despesques” offers a unique experience to taste an incomparable product. And you can’t leave Cadiz without experiencing the tradition of buying a “cucurucho” (cone) in one of its fry shops and strolling through the city while enjoying your favorite fried fish.

Malaga

Malaga’s gastronomy is a true jewel of the Mediterranean coast of Spain. In this region, Arabic and Mediterranean influences blend to create a unique culinary experience.

One of Malaga’s treasures is its wine, especially those from the Serranía de Ronda. This mountainous region has gained international recognition for its high-quality red wines, and you can enjoy tastings at the wineries while taking in stunning landscapes. Also, in the Axarquía region, you can taste Moscatel, a sweet and fruity wine famous in the region, which pairs perfectly with desserts and cheeses. If you’re a ham lover, Malaga has something special for you: chestnut-fed hams. These pigs produce an incredibly flavorful and aromatic ham that is a delight and rivals other hams with Designation of Origin (DOP).

On its beaches, you’ll find the famous “espetos de sardinas.” These fresh sardines are skewered on bamboo canes and grilled, stuck in the sand using a traditional local fishing boat, which serves as the cook’s grill for his barbecue, offering a smoky and delicious flavor. Although sardines are the most typical, there are also establishments that grill larger fish pieces. “Pescaíto frito” (fried fish) is another delight. From anchovies to squid, the fish and seafood are fried to perfection and served in tapas bars with precision in their cooking and breading.

Dishes like “gazpachuelo” or “ajoblanco” remind us that we are in one of the provinces with the most hours of sunlight in Spain, hence the importance of cold dishes and soups like these. “Rabo de toro” (oxtail) is slowly cooked in red wine and spices until it becomes tender and full of flavor.

It is unquestionable that Malaga could not be missing from the list of the best gastronomic destinations in Spain.

Espeto Malaga

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Ronda city Bridge

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